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The stage is set for fascinating Lancashire battle next season as Preston's rivals make changes

It’s all change in Lancastrian football this summer and the stage is set for a fascinating battle between four of the country’s most historic clubs.

Burnley’s relegation from the Premier League means they join Lancashire rivals Preston, Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool in the Championship.

Remarkably, this is the first time all four clubs have been in the same division since 1961.

As if that wasn’t enticing enough, the four clubs are in very interesting positions this summer and changes are in hefty supply across the county.

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Preston North End

As a Preston site, of course we’ll start with North End.

The Ryan Lowe era is in full swing and there is a real air of positivity surrounding the club right now.

Lowe’s natural demeanour is a big reason for that and he has masterfully united a fanbase that appeared very fractured for a while before his arrival.

The Liverpudlian has the gift of the gab, certainly in a football sense, and encouraging results after heading to Preston have left fans excited.

The changes have started; 13 players were released, four loanees have gone back to their parent clubs and three players have been transfer-listed.

Lowe has set about improving Preston’s recruitment with help from MRKT Insights and with some established Championship players targeted – a departure from North End’s usual approach – it looks like everybody is pulling in the same direction.

That’s what Preston fans have wanted for a while now and it appears to be happening.

Words need to be backed up with actions and a raft of quality signings are needed if Preston are to make progress.

Excitement and optimism levels are at a real high though and we can only hope that North End deliver this summer.

Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn have today confirmed the appointment of their new manager, landing Jon Dahl Tomasson as the replacement for Tony Mowbray.

Tomasson will be familiar to fans of a certain age who remember his playing days with the likes of Feyenoord and AC Milan.

The Dane build up a decent reputation for himself in Sweden, winning two league tiles in charge of Malmo.

52 wins in 93 games was a more than decent record for Tomasson, whose previous jobs at Excelsior Rotterdam and Roda JC.

Tomasson is a big-name addition for Rovers, who face a big summer.

Darragh Lenihan and Joe Rothwell are out of contract and look set to leave whilst the rumours surrounding Ben Brereton Diaz’s future continue.

Add in that loanees Ryan Giles, Reda Khadra and Jan Paul van Hecke have left Ewood Park and Tomasson may face a big job this summer.

Rovers did look streets ahead of Preston at Deepdale in April, so there is still plenty of talent in the Blackburn squad.

They have taken a risk in Tomasson though given his lack of Championship experience and the potential squad upheaval.

Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Blackpool

Blackpool were rocked earlier this month as Neil Critchley took the shock decision to leave Bloomfield Road to become Aston Villa’s assistant manager.

That decision seemed a bizarre one and left Blackpool searching for a new boss when they won’t have been expecting such developments.

Reports from Alan Nixon suggest that Blackpool have found their replacement though and will appoint Liam Rosenior as their new boss.

Rosenior has proven to be an exciting young coach in the Derby County ranks and has been vital to Wayne Rooney’s progress.

The 37-year-old has always spoken incredibly well in his time as a pundit and now he gets the chance to put it all into practice with Blackpool.

In almost any other circumstance, we would be excited to see Rosenior get his first crack at management.

As it is, we’re left hoping that he doesn’t fare all that well with Blackpool!

Blackpool’s squad seems fairly settled except for winger Josh Bowler, who will have plenty of suitors this summer.

There have been questions about owner Simon Sadler’s finances of late and Blackpool will likely shop for bargains, as they always do.

The Tangerines will face a period of transition under Rosenior but this looks to be an exciting appointment and one that could help them continue Critchley’s fine work.

Photo by Jimmy Bolcina / Photo News via Getty Images

Burnley

Burnley have joined Blackburn in announcing their new manager today and – just like Rovers – it’s a fairly big name.

The Clarets have gone for Vincent Kompany as their new boss, replacing Sean Dyche after his shock exit.

Kompany is best known for his outstanding career with Manchester City and he has turned his attention to coaching in recent times.

The Belgian headed back to manage his former club Anderlecht, guiding them to a top-three finish and a cup final last season.

Kompany has decided to quit Anderlecht and now has his new position secured, taking the reins at Burnley.

Noted for his development of young players, Kompany is a real shift from the Dyche era and a signal of change this summer.

James Tarkowski is off to Everton whilst Ben Mee is leaving too, meaning Burnley need to rebuild their back line.

The likes of Nick Pope, Josh Brownhill, Dwight McNeil, Wout Weghorst and Maxwell Cornet may all move on to raise funds.

Burnley’s financial position doesn’t look great and they now face a hefty loan repayment, taken out as part of ALK Capital’s takeover in 2020.

Funds may be in short supply for Kompany this summer but he will surely be able to call on Manchester City for a few loans to bolster the Burnley squad.

The Athletic even claim that Burnley could bring in double figures in terms of signings this summer as they start their revolution.

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The average age of the four Lancashire bosses is just a shade over 40.

The county now has a mix of first-time managers, young managers and European managers with big reputations from their playing days.

We have teams in a rebuilding mode and teams looking to kick on up the Championship table this summer.

There was already plenty of excitement at Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley and Preston finally being back in the same league together for the first time in over 60 years.

With so many changes now being made by all four clubs, the stage is set for an intriguing fight next season.

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